What Do Romney And The New York Times Have In Common?

They both take liberties with their “quotes.”

President Obama’s AIPAC speech last week was well received on both sides of aisle, but perhaps the New York Times found it message standing up to the Iranian nuclear program a little too clear, and sought to muddy the waters. Helen Cooper wrote

CAMERA: Mr. Obama, who has often lamented the United States’ invasion of Iraq in 2003, made reference to European and American intelligence assessments that have found no evidence that Iran has decided to pursue a nuclear weapon.

A March 6 page-one story by Mark Landler in the International Herald Tribune made the same claim (in virtually the same words). And, yet, you can watch or read the speech until Ahmadinejad is a Zionist and still you will not find a single reference to European or American intelligence assessments that have found no evidence that Iran has decided to build a nuclear weapon.

Similarly, Gov. Mitt Romney has earned a reputation for playing fast and lose with his “quotes” when the actual source does not quite fit his narrative.

The Romney campaigns very first television  ad earned a Pants on Fire rating from Polifact. According to Think Progress, Romney

Romney Campaign TV Ad

Thinkprogress Parody Ad

dishonestly presents a 2008 McCain campaign quote as the words of President Obama. The ad features a voice-over of Obama saying “if we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose.” Then-candidate Obama indeed said those words, perhaps dozens of times during the closing month of the 2008 campaign. The only problem? Obama was actually quoting the words of a strategist from Sen. John McCain’s campaign.

Another eyebrow-raising moment in the ad comes when it attacks “record foreclosures,” despite the fact that Romney’s stated housing policy is “don’t try and stop the foreclosure process.”

Politico reports that the Romney campaign is asserting that its ad was intentionally deceptive and dishonest. “We used that quote intentionally,” Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstorm said.

ThinkProgress has produced a parody ad, using Romney’s own standards for accuracy.

Here is the actual October 2008 Obama quote in context. The portion used by Romney is in bold:

Even as we face the most serious economic crisis of our time, even as you are worried about keeping your jobs or paying your bills or staying in your homes, my opponent’s campaign announced earlier this month that they want to ‘turn the page’ on the discussion about our economy so they can spend the final weeks of this election attacking me instead. Sen. McCain’s campaign actually said, and I quote, ‘If we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose.'”

Well, New Hampshire, last night we had a debate. I think you saw a bit of the McCain attack strategy in action. But here’s what Senator McCain doesn’t seem to understand. With the economy in turmoil and the American Dream at risk, the American people don’t want to hear politicians attack each other – you want to hear about how we’re going to attack the challenges facing middle class families each and every day. You want to hear about the issues that matter in your lives. You want to hear about how we’re going to bring about the change that we desperately need for our country. That’s what the American people want to hear.

Even when Romney is being endorsed by newspapers, he is very selective in editing the endorsement to remove any sign of hesitation by the newspaper emailing that endorsement to the voters. According to Ryan Lizza at the New Yorker, the Romney campaign “has no better friend than the ellipsis”.

Examples of some of the fine redaction by the eager staff at the Romney Campaign follow the jump.

  1. “Mr. Romney may not be the debater that Mr. Gingrich is (although he’s getting better). And he doesn’t have the same social conservative credentials as Mr. Santorum.”
    Savannah Morning News, March 1, 2012
  2. “He is the son of former Michigan Gov. George Romney, attending the prestigious Cranbrook School in Bloomfield Hills before receiving his undergraduate degree from Brigham Young University in 1971. He also is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School, both in 1975. Following his graduations he worked for Bain & Co. before starting the highly successful Bain Capital, a venture capital and investment firm, in 1984.”
    Midland Daily News, Michigan, February 26, 2012
  3. “Perhaps that is why he sometimes appears so awkward in public, especially when talking about himself and, in particular, his personal wealth.”
    Cleveland Plain Dealer, March 3, 2012
  4. “Yes, out-of-context declarations like ‘I enjoy firing people’ and ‘I don’t care about the poor’ contribute to the caricature of a rich swell, akin to that of Donald Trump. Really? Where are the trophy wives? The ostentatious lifestyle? The garish displays of life among the rich and famous? You will have to look hard.”
    Arizona Republic, February 24, 2012
  5. “We have our issues with Romney, to be sure. His opposition to the Dream Act for illegal-immigrant children raised in the U.S. is not one we support. And his effort to position himself as the ‘toughest’ GOP candidate on immigration issues is a concern.”
    Arizona Republic, February 24, 2012
  6. “In fact, this newspaper does not embrace many of his ideas on taxation, which give too great a reward to the wealthy and not enough help for the poor and middle class.”
    -Times Daily of Florence, Alabama, March 9, 2012
  7. “His stance against government interaction to revive the domestic automobile industry is disappointing. Also disappointing are inconsistencies in his message…”
    Grand Rapids Press, February 22, 2012
  8. “Consistency is certainly a problem for Romney. The one-time moderate has adjusted his positions on so many issues-including abortion and gay rights-that his core beliefs are a mystery. In this campaign, he has tried so hard to prove his conservative bona fides that he has undercut one of his greatest selling points: the pragmatism that enabled him to get things done as a Republican governor in one of the nation’s most Democratic and liberal states.”
    Cleveland Plain Dealer, March 3, 2012
  9. “That has been just one example of some of the shape-shifting Romney has done to appeal to conservative primary voters who believe he is too moderate. So, it’s not unfair to wonder who the real Romney is.”
    Birmingham News, March 7, 2012

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